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Tour of Workman's Cottage Offers Glimpse into Santa Monica's Past

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark


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Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

July 30, 2013 - - The Santa Monica Conservancy wants to take visitors on a tour of the bayside city's past through the history of one century-old home in the middle of the city.

Over the course of the last century, this 16th Street home went from one of many spartan, working-class bungalows in a sparsely-populated beach town on the furthest outskirts of a growing metropolis, to a comfortable, modern home in a densely-populated city.

And on Saturday, August 18, the Conservancy is inviting the public to take a tour through the house and its history, much of which parallels the ways in which Santa Monica has changed over the years.

“A couple bought about two years ago now and they spent 18 months renovating it, during which time they learned an awful lot more about the history of the building,” said Conservancy President Carol Lemlein.

The couple, Hilda Weiss and Wayne Lindberg, rescued this slice of Santa Monica's history in 2009 when they fixed-up a largely dilapidated building.

“They saw a very small house in front, a small guesthouse in the center of the lot and two garages at the back, all in disrepair,” conservancy officials said.

“As the renovation proceeded, the layers of the home’s history were exposed, including four earlier additions,” they said.

The original “workman's cottage,” likely built at the end of the 19th century, was a small, modest getaway for people without much money looking to escape from the noise and chaos of a burgeoning Los Angeles.

“It was one step up from camping,” said Lemlein, since the one-room cottages, which cropped up in the late 1800s in Santa Monica, didn't have indoor plumbing and visitors would have to cook outside.

The bungalows were alternatives for those who couldn't afford to stay in the few high-end hotels that had been built along the coast.

Eventually, the bungalows, originally only host to visitors for several days or weeks at a time, began to attract year-round residents.

Many of them were demolished or, as in the case of the 16th Street house, refitted with modern amenities and expanded to accommodate wealthier families.

Now, after 18 months of renovation -- which added nearly 400 square feet of additional space, a second floor and deck in the backyard -- the former cottage fits in quite nicely in the surrounding neighborhood.

Weiss and Lindberg “found ways to illustrate (the building's history) in the design of the renovation,” Lemlein said.

In one room, the couple chose to expose the original siding of the cottage for one of the interior walls. In other places, they have windows to the original wallpaper, Lemlein said.

And, from the outside, the building retains its Victorian look.

The Conservancy will offer guided tours of the house on August 18 from 3:00 to 4:20 p.m. Tickets are $25 for Conservancy members and $30 for nonmembers.

“A wine and cheese reception will be held in the beautiful garden, designed by FormLA, which combines ease of care in the front with drought-tolerant plants, a side garden with vegetables, herbs and fruit trees and a back garden with a water feature,” officials said. “The owners, architect, and landscape architect will be present to mingle and answer questions.”

For more information or to reserve tickets, click here.

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